Thursday, February 19, 2004

Happy First Day of Spring Traning everyone!

Transaction Wire

Colorado U fires Gary Barnett. If you ask me, he's probably not a good choice for a Ty replacement.
Pirates sign Randall Simon and Raul Mondesi. Simon isn't a bad resigning - he'll put the bat on the ball. But Mondesi has become Mr. Underacheiver, and playing for a team isn't going anywhere isn't going to help. It's money better spent elsewhere, unless the Pirates are smart enough to get a few good AAA guys out of him at the trade deadline.
Cubs sign Greg Maddux. A great young staff and an established veteran. Plus, it's a non Questec park. Great sign.
Rangers trade Alex Rodriguez for Alfonso Soriano and a PTBNL. Lost in the shuffle here is the fact that Soriano will probably try to play shortstop now. That's going to be ugly. And I doubt the Rangers need another all or nothing swinger.
A lot of people say A-Rod's contract was to blame for the Rangers not landing any big time pitching. Do you realize who Texas's GM is? That's right, its KankaNation favorite John Hart. With or without Rodriguez, there wasn't going to be any money on pitching.
As for Bud Selig, he's once again the owners' puppet. "Well, I'll let this go this time, but don't make a habit of it." Way to take a stand, moron.
As for Rodriguez, well, we have our AL East preview to discuss that. I do, however, like how all the Yankee haters are rationalizing the heck out of this trade. Maybe it's the fact that the Yankees were handed the championship each February each of the last 3 years only to fail. Time will tell.

MLB Preview #: AL East

New York Yankees

Kenny Lofton CF
Derek Jeter SS
Alex Rodriguez 3b
Jason Giambi 1b
Gary Sheffield RF
Jorge Posada C
Hideki Matsui LF
Bernie Williams CF
Enrique Wilson/Miguel Cairo 2b
Mike Mussina
Kevin Brown
Javier Vazquez
Jose Contreras
John Lieber
Where to start? Lofton's bound to hit the wall sometime, but if Torre can put up with Soriano at leadoff, he'll put up with anyone. Lofton and Williams aren't going to last a whole year in that huge center field. So, look for tons of Ruben Sierra time in LF as Matsui moves to center. Giambi has yet to live up to potential in New York, and when he proves he can't handle first every day, it's Tony Clark backing him up. Sheffield had a great year last year, but this is his first in the AL, so who knows what will happen. Bernie Williams is finally out of the four spot, thank God, and the prospects at second don't exactly look great. If Bret Boone or Jose Vidro end up in New York by the deadline, I'll officially lose any remaining faith I have in any owners. Any single one of them.
The pitching rotation looks atrocious. Javier Vazquez is a good pitcher, but he's just enough of a no name to get booed after a few bad starts, and from there his year could be awful. Kevin Brown's guaranteed to miss 20 starts, and there's really no one to take his place. Now. I better shut up before Brian Cashman starts scouting starting pitchers.
As for the bullpen - not impressive. Mariano Rivera is a one pitch pitcher, and if Bill Selby can figure him out (2-out grand caps off 6 run Tribe 9th in a win against Rivera the year before last), anyone can.
As for A-Rod and Derek. Rodriguez has two gold gloves, and Jeter is the worst defensive SS in the AL. OK, Rodriguez's gold gloves were cheap, and he only got them because of his offense. But still, it actually makes sense to have him make the move. He's the better defender, so he'll take a transition to a new position easier that Jeter. Plus, we all remember what happened when Jeter got involved in a play at the hot corner last year. Well, once Jeter's hurt again, Rodriguez will take over and play very well, perhaps prompting a Jeter move to second. It only makes sense due to Jeter's terrible range and week arm (plus the 40 AAAA 3rd basemen the Yanks now have). Oh, as for these two "captains": yes, Jeter not moving over for the better player was bad, but Rodriguez just left his team. Good good.
Oh, and A-Rod hit a whopping .208 at Yankee Stadium last year.

Boston Red Sox

Johnny Damon CF
Bill Mueller 3b
Nomar Garciaparra SS
Manny Ramirez LF
David Ortiz/Ellis Burks DH
Kevin Millar 1b
Trot Nixon RF
Jason Varitek C
Pokey Reese 2b
Pedro Martinez
Curt Schilling
Derek Lowe
Tim Wakefield
BK Kim
Boy, the Sox sure love their D at 2b. If Alfonso Soriano is the "how not to" example of moving from SS to 2b, Pokey Reese is the "how to," winning several gold gloves at second. That's the only big pickup in the lineup, but this lineup doesn't need to much help.
The rotation looks good, but if you take a second look you'll notice it's not very deep. That could be trouble when Pedro gets hurt. Plus, BK Kim is much more effective coming out of the bullpen, when he doesn't give the opposing rotation a chance to roll over a few times. As for the pen, Keith Foulke may be the most underrated signing of the offseason, both because it shores up the back end of Boston's bullpen, and because Foulke has quietly become a great closer.

Toronto Blue Jays

Reed Johnson RF
Frank Catalanotto LF
Vernon Wells CF
Carlos Delgado 1b
Josh Phelps DH
Greg Myers C
Eric Hinske 3b
Orlando Hudson 2b
Chris Woodward SS
Roy Halladay
Miguel Batista
Ted Lilly
Pat Hentgen
Josh Towers
Both the lineup and rotation are great up top but terrible on the bottom. If I were actually funny, I would've had a great joke to go along with that one. Maybe I need to hire an official one-liner writer. Delgado, Wells, and Halladay are as good as they come. Catalanotto is a good guy to have in the lineup, and Hinske is two years removed from a rookie of the year trophy. Miguel Batista is a good #3 starter; let's see how he does after he moves up a spot. Josh Towers is tempting fate by wearing a single digit uniform number (7) as a pitcher. A lot of these guys are close to breakout seasons. Of course, many of them have been that way their whole careers.

Baltimore Orioles

Jerry Hairston Jr. 2b
Melvin Mora 3b
Raphael Palmeiro 1b
Miguel Tejada SS
Javy Lopez C
Jay Gibbons RF
Larry Bigbie LF
Jack Cust DH
Luis Matos/Tim Raines Jr. CF
Sidney Ponson
Kurt Ainsworth
Rodrigo Lopez
Eric DuBose
Matt Riley
Erik Bedard
Omar Daal
The names will impress you, the results may not. Melvin Mora should again put up bid numbers. Miguel Tejada needs to prove last year wasn't a fluke. My feeling is that the real Miguel Tejada is more like last year's version than the MVP Tejada two years ago. Javy Lopez may not do so well now that he's not surrounded by all stars. As for some of the Gammons-esque types: Jay Gibbons is decent, he's more or less the poor man's Aubrey Huff. Jack Cust was a very high draft pick. He can't play a position, and he's struggled to live up to the hype on offense as well.
Getting Syndey Ponson back is big, and the Orioles still get to keep Kurt Ainsworth. Other than them, the pitching staff isn't much, other than closer Jorge Julio.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Carl Crawford LF
Rocco Baldelli CF
Aubrey Huff DH
Jose Cruz Jr. RF
Tino Martinez/Robert Fick 1b
Geoff Blum 3b
Rey Sanchez SS
Toby Hall C
Julio Lugo 2b
Victor Zambrano
Jeremi Gonzalez
Mark Hendrickson
Doug Waechter
Damian Moss
Dewon Brazelton
Paul Abbott
Tampa Bay's lineup is much like Toronto's, only the names aren't as big. Then, you get to the bottom and see both Rey Sanchez and Julio Lugo. At least they have exciting young stars in Baldelli and Huff (and to a lesser extent, Crawford). Believe it or not, I would actually pay money to see these guys (Baldelli and Huff, not Sanchez and Lugo).
As for the pitching staff, the Devil Rays had a few good young pitchers, but it looks like they're all gone now, except for Victor "don't call me Carlos" Zambrano. Paul Abbott isn't listed in the opening day rotation, but look for him to eat a ton of innings. As for the pen, well, you have 2003 all star Lance Carter (only an all star because the AL needed more pitchers) and Danys Baez, who was the victim of too many good young pitchers in the Cleveland system. Oh, and sucking. He was also the victim of sucking.

Well, that's the AL East for you. Next week is the NL East. If you're looking for some fantasy baseball chatter, check out the NDNation site, where they discuss their fantasy league. Scott, if you'd like to play KankaMatic Baseball, please let me know, and also let me know what your favorite team is.